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Caps' young defensemen are learning on the job

By Katie Carrera
Morning Roundup

Throughout the summer, questions were raised as to whether the Capitals' young defensemen -- John Carlson and Karl Alzner -- were ready to handle a substantial role in the NHL. While both will tell you they're still learning on the job, both believe that the more they play, the more relaxed and comfortable on the ice they'll become.

Carlson averages the third most minutes on the team, behind just Mike Green and Jeff Schultz, with 21:40 per game. Alzner, who typically doesn't play on the power play and isn't spending as much time on the penalty kill as Carlson, ranks eighth on the team with 18:12 of ice time.

"I'm young and I want to contribute all the time and I want to be one of the main guys. I don't think I'm quite there yet," Carlson said. "But that's why I always want to come to practice. The more I'm out there the better I feel."

Alzner said: "You see it here and around the league, teams instilling a lot of confidence in their young defensemen by letting them, say, a guy like Tyler Myers, play 25 minutes a game. When you play that much and know you're going to be playing a lot, it's a lot easier. That's what's happening with us here, we know [the coaching staff] trusts us."

The coaching staff started putting Alzner and Carlson together on a pairing consistently back on Oct. 27 when the Capitals began a three-game road trip in Raleigh. The move was meant to help both players relax and allow them both to fall back on their familiarity with each other.

"Sometimes when you're a young guy playing with an older guy you feel more pressure, you don't want to let him down," assistant coach Bob Woods said. "Where as with this, you have two kids going through the same experience and I think they complement each other, they can support each other and they both understand exactly what the other one is going through."

It's not always easy being a young defenseman carrying a significant workload in the NHL, but John Carlson and Karl Alzner appear to be growing increasingly comfortable in the transition.

Don't forget to submit your questions here for the latest video chat with yours truly, today at noon.

Caps fans rescued a stranded Josh Godfrey this past weekend when the Stingrays played the Reading Royals and Dan Steinberg has all the details.

The Caps may have the best young trio of goaltenders in the league. (Corey Masisak)

Elliotte Friedman reports that GM George McPhee won't trade any of the Caps' young goalies. (CBC)

And you can count McPhee among those who aren't completely happy with the way the Capitals have managed to win so far this season. (

Also from, Jason Chimera discusses his first outdoor game -- the Heritage Classic in 2003.

By Katie Carrera  | November 17, 2010; 9:51 AM ET
Categories:  John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Morning Roundup  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Video: From Alex Ovechkin's Russia, with love
Next: Live Caps Q&A: Wednesday, 12 p.m.



Posted by: instinct227 | November 17, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Someone asked where the game was going to be shown tonight. It is on CSN+. I remember some people saying FIOS didn't have it last year, not sure if that has changed. I also remember hearing that CSN+ was going to be HD this season too. Hopefully that is true.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 17, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

And also where is the game going to be televised tonight??????

Posted by: OldCapCenter | November 17, 2010 9:53 AM

On CSN-Washington

I hope Varly gets healthy soon, but while not rushing. In my humble opinon, Neuvy look tired the last couple of games.

Posted by: instinct227 | November 17, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

FIOS only gets one of the CSN channels. Just not sure which one it is. There has been an away game or two I wasnt able to watch at whatever Comcast channel they were on those nights, FIOS doesnt get.

Btw...thats 1 post after 10...will my prediction be fulfilled? :)

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 17, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Rumor is Flash is going to be a healthy scratch tonight...omg omg omg let the trade rumors run rampant. PLEASEEEEEEEE

Come on D man. No whammies no whammies no whammies STOP...Land on Bieksa. Score.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 17, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse


While I wish a trade rumor would be the reason, I think the team just finally has had enough of watching him play. And hopes scratching him might get him going to then trade down the road.

Posted by: ThePat | November 17, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

2 new stories, after 10 before 11...SAOTI is a damn good prophet.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 17, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I have Direct TV, and they carry CSN+ in HD, yes, yes, yes!!! Even in the exurbs between Harrisburg and Philthy.

And Flash scratch (rumored) equal to trade, hmm..., nice (if for S@H blueliner) but I'll believe it when it actually happens.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | November 17, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

For those of you having trouble finding CSN+, it is listed as TCNHD on my cable. Hope this helps.........

Posted by: pittshater | November 17, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Channel 1 on FIOS will have the game tonight. Probably not in HD though.

Posted by: jdove80 | November 17, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Last season, the Caps games that were relegated to CSN+ on Fios were on Fios channel 1 in Fairfax. I moved and there was no Fios available, so I had to go back to Directv.

Posted by: _Mark | November 17, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

SAOTI: I could have told you with a late night game & then story to write she wouldn't be in early. You can't expect them to work 18 hrs/day. (You don't, do you?)

I would have told you had you asked.


Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 17, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I take it back! FIOS Channel 1 for SD and 501 for HD.

Posted by: jdove80 | November 17, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

For all those ragging on Flash this year, he has actually been very defensively responsible all season and has been pretty solid. He has the 3rd highest +/- of all the Caps forwards(behind only Laich and Semin). That's not to say he hasn't made some mistakes(he does turn the puck over too much), but he has also had a lot positives.

I'm not saying that he shouldn't be traded. If the right deal arose it would be good. Nor am I saying that he shouldn't be criticized when he plays poorly.

But when people just post with a pure focus on stating that Flash is bad without any deference to the good things he does, it shows incredible bias and those posters start losing all of their credibility.

They end up looking like people who will alter the facts to match their already decided viewpoint instead of altering their viewpoint so it would coincide with the entirety of the facts.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 17, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse


Fact: Flash sucks.

Posted by: Steve_R | November 17, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"They end up looking like people who will alter the facts to match their already decided viewpoint instead of altering their viewpoint so it would coincide with the entirety of the facts." - sgm3

We call this pulling a sgm3. =) haha jk bro. Good to see you posting again.

rofl nice one. However I will say this: Flash at center = sucks, Flash at wing = trade bait.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 17, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

the more I see Richards, the more I want him in a trade to the caps. sadly, this would cost waaaaay too much!

Posted by: FrankM73 | November 17, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I have never said Flash sucks, hence do not call him Flush. I want to see a trade for what the Caps need for the playoffs from an excess (scoring winger). I think the Caps have better options at wing for the playoffs with tougher forwards (e.g. Laich, Fehr, Hendricks, Chimera, Semin, OV). If Flash sucked, the Caps could not find a dance partner. His strengths are 20+ goals/season and only one year at a fairly modest 2.6 mil. He has a good shot, good hands, and good passing skills. I think this assessment is fairly accurate and accurately fair.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | November 17, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I'm missing something, but I've yet to see anything from Alzner to suggest he'll be a top-4 defenseman. I thought he said he had worked on his physicality and hoped this year to get involved ala Erskine; what a joke! Yet Alzner gets praised for everything he does and Erskine has to fight for every minute he gets :( I am, however, hopeful Carlson will blossom into a Calle Johansson-type defender....both Alzner and Carlson lack an edge/snarl to their game, so I guess they fit in well on BB's of old-school hockey, let's enjoy Erskine this year as it'll probably his last in red :(
11/17/2010 8:32:51 AM

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 17, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: FrankM73 | November 17, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Frank: I think I posted the other day a lenghthy set of data showing I'd pay him 6.7 but might have to go as high as 7.0. So, I concur with that article.

my name is tominsocal1 and I approve this post

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 17, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3 - agreed on Flash, he's competed, I think, and he's been willing to take hits to make plays. No lack of effort but I'd agree he's no great centerman (and his position as 3C seems to show this).

@FrankM73, sotomcalin1

and as a big Semin fan, I think 6.7 too much. I think 6 per is more than fair if we can sign him for 3 years...We need him and others (Green) to take at least partial discounts (I believe Backs did) to stay with the very strong team...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 17, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

up to 6.7 mil would be nice for the Caps given the return. Semin doesn't like being the center of the press, he's comfortable where his is now. He's making 6 mil, likely to go up to 6.75 - 7 mil for the long haul. Could he get 7.5 or 8? probably... but why leave his comfort zone. People that are shy and resist change tend to compromise. I think 6.7 over the long haul HERE in DC is where it'll end for Semin, and all will be happy!

at 23 Points in 18 Game and on pace for 59G, 45A, 104Pts, puts him in the company of a lot of players on this list.

My question to you... at 6.5 mil (since 6.7 is too high), who on this list who you take over Semin and at their cap hit of 7mil+ ? Horcoff, Towes, Kane, Redden, Vanek?

The fact is, based on what Semin brings to the table, 6. is a bargain, 8mil on the market is probably right... I'm hoping for 6.7!

Posted by: FrankM73 | November 17, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: FrankM73 | November 17, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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